Scotland’s first game in a major tournament in 23 years resulted in a 2-0 defeat by the Czech Republic
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Don’t be bothered by strange sights like the excess weight of adult men and women wearing Saltire make-up for the next few weeks.
The unusual but unmistakable atmosphere that surrounds the country is full of excitement, and it all comes down to the fact that Scotland’s men’s football team is back at a major tournament for the first time in decades.
Reason enough for the whole country to be happy – even those of you who have no knowledge of football.
So that you can enjoy the occasion – let’s face it, there is no escaping it – here is BBC Scotland’s guide to Euro 2020 for the infidels.
What’s up and why the fuss?
The European Championship is usually held every four years. Euro 2020 – as the name suggests – was supposed to take place last summer, but was postponed for a year due to Covid-19.
In terms of importance, the tournament is huge for national teams across Europe, only secondary after the World Cup, and will take place from June 11th to July 11th this summer.
Euros (this is the language to impress people) is usually held in one or two countries, but this time around 11 cities – including Glasgow – are co-hosting it for the 60th anniversary of the competition.
Portugal are defending champions, Scotland qualified after one monumental victory against Serbia in November, which moved fans to tears.
Scotland’s participation is the first time since 1998 in a major tournament – Euro or World Cup -. Hence the nation is in an uproar.
How does it work?
Scotland is in Group D alongside Croatia, the Czech Republic and England. Well, you don’t need any football knowledge to know that Scotland loves to beat England. With everything.
The four teams play against each other once, with the first two – or possibly three – moving into the knockout phase. Scotland have never made it through the group stage so that’s a goal.
Two of Scotland’s Games take place in Hampden. Unfortunately, the first game against the Czech Republic on Monday did not go according to plan, as Scotland missed many opportunities and lost 2-0.
However, all hope is not yet lost. Next up is a trip to Wembley to play England on Friday before Croatia visit Hampden on Tuesday.
If you are carried away by euphoria and actually want to see a game, you have to be content with a pub or your living room.
Covid restrictions mean limited spectator numbers in the stadiums – around 9,000 fans were at Scotland’s opening game – so tickets were tight and quickly booked out.
Even the fan zone built in Glasgow Green was sold out within minutes, with up to 6,000 people enjoying the action every day.
Scotland Squad – Anyone I Might Know?
The head coach who has finally brought Scotland back to big time is Steve Clarke, a stoic 57-year-old former full-back who is never knowingly overwhelmed and makes a mean line with dry humor and arched eyebrows.
If Scotland win a game the fans may need to be scratched off the ceiling but Clarke will keep his players feet firmly on the ground.
His squad has some real superstars. Scotland captain Andy Robertson is Champions League and English title winners with Liverpool, while players like Kieran Tierney – formerly Celtic – and John McGinn also make it big in the major league in the south.
Can youthful midfielder Billy Gilmour further improve his reputation at Euro 2020?
Then there are the young people who have the potential to shed light on the tournament. Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour has just turned 20 and only played 40 minutes for Scotland, but fans are longing for him to be thrown into the deep end during the European Championship.
Rangers’ Nathan Patterson and Celtic’s David Turnbull also made their international debuts in last week’s warm-ups and have a knack for making Europe sit up and take notice.
It would be negligent not to mention Scotland’s twisted past of glorious failure.
If there is an opportunity to perform admirably but it falls short, the men’s national team will find it.
Because of this, qualifying for Euro 2020 was an unexpected joy, especially as Scotland had to win not just one but two penalty shootouts.
Once Clarke and his players made history and bucked the trend, they could do so again by continuing the party through to the round of 16. But they have to do it the hard way after losing their start against the Czechs.
So try to enjoy the ride and should everything end in tears of joy or despair, it will at least explain it to the people with the smeared face paint.